More and more Germans rely on multi-factor authentication and password managers. The good old password alone will soon become obsolete in the age of identity theft.

Identity theft is a real danger. A digital spring cleaning is advisable. Almost half of all Internet users now use a password manager (25.5 percent) or an analog notebook to write down their access data (21.5 percent). These are the fantastic results of the representative ESET Spring 2022 survey of 1,000 internet users. The digitization of everyday life has received an enormous boost with the corona pandemic.

Whether shopping, banking, or texting friends: nowadays, everything is done via the Internet. Users leave footprints, and data is generated. If this information falls into the wrong hands, it can easily be misused for identity theft. The ESET security experts explain what to look for when digital spring cleaning.

“Germany has caught up. Password security is on the minds of many users. Nevertheless, my tip is: Leave the digital comfort zone you are used to! With just a few clicks, your online accounts are protected from cyber-thieves. For example, activating two-factor authentication protects the access data from thieves. Even if these fall into the wrong hands, they cannot be misused,” advises Thomas Uhlemann, ESET Security Specialist. “Data and apps also accumulate on most PCs, smartphones, and tablets. It pays to declutter regularly. The firmware, operating system, and all applications should also be checked and updated.”

Three out of four respondents use 2FA at least partially.

Almost 28 percent of the Internet users surveyed rely on two-factor authentication (2FA) for every online service. This allows users to create another factor of verification in addition to the password. This can be a confirmation code on another device, for example, an SMS on a smartphone. A fingerprint on a sensor or a USB token can also be used for identification. Around 46 percent protect their access data at least partially with another factor in addition to the password. Twenty-six percent do not use it at all.

One in four uses a password manager.

A third of Internet users are registered with up to 20 online services Creating a unique password for each account and remembering it is a considerable challenge. Almost 32 percent have accepted this and placed their passwords or pressed the “forgot your password” button.

One in four Internet users uses a password manager to store access data securely and always have it ready. 21.5 percent of those surveyed use a notebook to manage login data. Around 15 percent save the passwords in the browser. Pleasing: Only 5.8 percent of those surveyed use identical passwords for multiple accounts to simplify things.

Every fourth smartphone user uses no or weak security functions.

Almost twelve percent do not use any security functions to unlock their smartphone. If the device falls into the wrong hands, all the data stored is freely available. Twelve percent of those surveyed also use the somewhat insecure function of unlock patterns. At least one PIN is used by over 41 percent. Around 27 percent rely on biometric functions such as fingerprints or face recognition.

About the poll

For the representative online safety survey, ESET surveyed 1,000 Internet users of different ages in February 2022. The online survey was carried out by the market research institute Omniquest on behalf of the European IT security company.

Tips for a successful digital spring cleaning

Be up to date

Whether the operating system or installed apps – always keep your digital companions such as smartphones, tablets, and computers up to date and install updates regularly. Outdated software for which updates do not appear should be replaced with up-to-date programs.

Erase old data carriers properly.

Whether you want to sell or dispose of old hard drives, they should be adequately erased. Emptying the recycle bin or formatting is not enough. Strangers can still reconstruct data. Special programs should be used here, which carry out thorough cleaning. With modern SSD or SSHD hard drives, other methods must be used than old HDDs. The BSI has compiled tips here.

Outsource important data

Pictures, videos, and other personal data should be outsourced to external storage media. In this way, the data is secured and available even in a failure. We recommend using network storage or cloud storage for such backups. In particular, sensitive data should be provided with reliable encryption in the cloud.

Secure access data effectively.

Just changing the password alone does not increase security. As in ESET Smart Security Premium, they use a password manager to protect passwords and personal data. If possible, use 2-factor authentication in addition to the user name and password, such as a one-time code via SMS or app, fingerprint, or face recognition. Many services such as Facebook, Google, or Apple offer this option.

Deploy a security solution

A robust security solution is essential for PCs, Macs, and mobile devices. This should offer comprehensive protection against malicious programs and make everyday digital life more manageable with valuable functions such as child safety locks, password managers, data encryption, and anti-theft protection.



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